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In the middle of the 20th century, employers in the U.S. began offering healthcare insurance to their employees as an incentive to hire and retain talent. This was, effectively, the beginning of the “fully-insured” model, wherein employers paid a premium to an insurance carrier based on the number of enrolled employees. In this context, the insurance company assumes the risk. However, employers had no access to the data or the information that could help them proactively monitor and reduce their overall healthcare spending.
Today, many employers have adopted a “self-funded model.” In this model, employers take on the risk and pay for healthcare expenses out-of-pocket as they are received. This self-funded model gave employers access to employees’ healthcare data and helped them understand their population’s health, enabling them to introduce new wellness programs and make timely interventions to avoid or reduce mishaps in care.
But to understand healthcare data, identify those of “high quality” and draw conclusions from it, companies need to have an abundance of time, resources, and expertise—a combination that’s hard to possess.
This is precisely where Springbuk excels.
The company was founded on the simple idea of building a data warehouse that could ingest claims data and display it for employers clients to follow year-over-year, see how they’re trending and identify cost drivers on the areas of concern. Building on this intent, Springbuk today provides a leading-edge Health Intelligence platform that helps employers and consultants manage their investments in population health.
“Springbuk’s Health Intelligence helps employers focus on what matters most— their employees—by identifying savings opportunities and helping them meaning fully direct resources for the highest impact,” says Roger Deetz, Vice President of Technology, Springbuk.
The company’s innovative solution offers in-depth insights, empowers smarter decision-making, and provides strategic direction to help employers maximize return on investments in healthcare and wellness programs. With the ability to ingest and analyze the healthcare data of an employee population and generate actionable strategies, the platform helps employers and consultants deliver the right kind of programs and plans that can keep their people healthier and eventually reduce their long-term healthcare cost.
Deriving Actionable Insights from Data
In the simplest sense, the Springbuk health intelligence platform is an entirely cloud-based, software-as-a-service solution.
Springbuk’s Health Intelligence helps you protect your most valuable asset—your people—by identifying savings opportunities and helping you meaning-fully direct your resources for the highest impact
It primarily encompasses three distinct components—the Health Intelligence Engine™, Springbuk Insights™, and their latest addition, Springbuk Answers™. First, the Health Intelligence Engine™ consists of tools that give Springbuk the ability to access and consume data directly, allowing them to run multi-source data on-demand with increased flexibility and visibility.
“Health Intelligence Engine was built from the ground up to manage our client’s data in a flexible, secure, and high-performance manner. It assures that the data our clients view in the Springbuk platform has the integrity to represent the true story of their population’s health and help them strategically design and manage employee benefits—unifying plans, programs, and results across a population,” says Deetz. “Almost everything about our architecture is automated and self-healing. The Springbuk Intelligence Engine allows us to iterate incredibly quickly. That speed of iteration allows us to be very responsive to customer issues and innovate at a fast pace.”
Springbuk takes advantage of cloud-native technologies so that its data pipeline is entirely modern and can handle the demands of health benefits data today, but is ready to influence how health benefits data will be processed in the future. Upon receipt of all data for a client, whether it be medical claims, Rx claims, biometrics, lab values, etc., these files are validated through a raw check to ensure all necessary data components are present to begin mapping. The company’s robust mapping and normalization rules inspect the contents of the fields sent to them and assess the quality of the raw data files delivered by the health benefits vendor (i.e., missing fields, invalid codes, inconsistent values, etc.). Files received from a benefits vendor or carrier are mapped to a matching field in the Springbuk Data Warehouse.
The platform’s cloud-native architecture gives it the ability to quickly scale to meet the demands of ingesting and transforming multi-sourced healthcare data. Further, they are an advanced partner in the Amazon Web Service Partner Network, and the platform follows the Amazon Well-Architected Framework guidelines.
Enrichment of the data takes place by incorporating industry-standard episode grouping, risk grouping, and evidence-based medicine. Then, Springbuk further enriches the data using proprietary data science methodologies that include AI-based opportunities and event detection algorithms. They inspect client data over time, using over 180 automated quality checks, to look for unusual patterns such as significant increases/decreases in spend or enrollment and any missing data. The company also looks for changes in data that don’t support the other, such as enrollment and spend moving in different directions. “Whenever we discover an issue with the data, we will make a change in our mapping or framework to prevent this from happening in the future, or we will make a quality rule to make sure this issue can be detected,” says Deetz.
Once the data is normalized and enriched, it is published via Springbuk’s cloud-based web application. At this point, customers can securely log in, explore the data, make their discovery, get their questions answered, and build their reports. This brings us to the second component of the solution, dubbed Springbuk Insights™, that generates actionable strategies and predicts health plan participants at-risk of conditions to more effectively guide disease management resources and risk mitigation strategies. It primarily offers five unique categories to quickly organize opportunities: Risk Mitigation, Care Efficiency, Drug Savings, Steerage Procedures, and Potentially Unnecessary Procedures. With Springbuk Insights™, clients can quickly identify opportunities and understand where they can have the most significant impact, seamlessly create focus populations and track identified populations throughout the platform, and use the filter bar to take their recommendations a step further by identifying insights for specific cohorts.
“Our ultimate goal is to prevent disease with data”
To take it up a notch, the company announced the release of Springbuk Answers™ in mid-2020. This powerful new NLP search solution instantly answers key business questions related to healthcare benefits, underlying cost drivers, and metrics for informing actionable strategies. Springbuk Answers™ help benefit leaders and consultants save time, identify information quickly, and ensure accurate data drives decisions around cost-drivers. It provides comparisons for spend options and leads to more accurate strategic decisions. Springbuk Answers™ help organizations and consultants find the facts needed to personalize their strategies without wasting time or needing a data science team. It brings the facts with benchmark comparisons into an easily understood dashboard that would typically take a team of analysts countless hours to produce. To top it all off, Springbuk’s platform is HIPAA compliant—ensuring privacy and security as it is of great importance in this day and age.
Adapting to the New Normal
One of the biggest reasons behind Springbuk’s success is its ability to adapt and respond to market changes. At this moment, an employers’ ability to understand health trends, know how to act on that information, and put it into action to protect their people could not be more pressing than ever. As such, Springbuk announced its new offering dubbed the “COVID-19 Insights” in Q2 2020. The new add-on to the Springbuk health intelligence platform essentially helps companies identify individuals at risk for more severe complications if they were to contract the virus. In addition to automatically identifying these individuals, it also provides recommendations to protect those individuals. “Our vision of Health Intelligence goes beyond standard preventive measures. It’s times like these that underscore our core value of ‘Winning Together.’ Both employers and benefit consultants are in a position to address this health crisis proactively. With this new intelligence, we’re hopeful that we can help empower all parties to protect the greatest asset: the people. Together, we can help reduce the risk of those health conditions that would potentially put people in danger of the effects of COVID-19,” says Deetz.
To date, the company has served over 4,000 employers, ranging from small to mid-size businesses (SMBs) to enterprise-level entities. Considering the increasing number of data sources, Springbuk envisions continuing to enhance its capabilities to ingest more and different types of data, decipher only those of meaningful substance, and help customer derive actionable insights from them. “Our ultimate goal is to prevent disease with data. We think big, move fast, and strive to bring our best selves to the table on every single project to achieve this goal,” concludes Deetz.